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Hineini – Two Little Hebrew Words that Say Everything

Kotel-crowds-Jewish prayer-Jerusalem

“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say:  Here am I.”  (Isaiah 58:9)

“Here I am — Hineini,”  said Abraham, Moses, and the many prophets of God in response to Him calling their name.

Hineini! — הִנֵּֽנִי (pronounced hee-NAY-nee)  is the joining (as happens in Hebrew)  of two little words:  hineh and ani, meaning here and I.

Hineini is not like the modern Hebrew word po, which means present or here in the sense of taking classroom attendance.

Jewish men study at Yeshivat Sanz (a Jewish seminary) in Netanya, Israel.

Jewish men study at Yeshivat Sanz (a Jewish seminary) in Netanya, Israel.

Hineh by itself is often translated as Behold!  It tells people an important announcement is at hand. 

With the Hebrew word ani, it proclaims,  “I’m at Your service, Lord!”

But this is not a one-sided announcement.  God also tells us,  “Hineini.”

Let’s discover what our responsibilities are to our Creator, and what His intentions are toward us through this fascinating word.

Eve tries to hide from God’s Presence.

Eve tries to hide from God’s Presence.

Where Are You?

The Lord longs for us to respond to Him, to be near to Him, and place Him at the center of our lives because it is His deep desire to have an intimate relationship with us.

At first,  He enjoyed intimate fellowship with Adam and Eve.  We don’t know how long that fellowship lasted but it was eventually torn apart.  Walking in the garden alone, the loving Creator calls out to Adam:

“The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day,  and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

“But the Lord God called to the man,  ‘Where are you?’

“He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’”

God was searching Adam’s heart,  longing for him to say,  “Hineini.”

Because they disobeyed God,  Adam and Eve were afraid to come out of hiding as so many of us are.  Nevertheless,  God is always longing to restore our relationship with Him.

God shows us His future Messianic redemptive plan when He calls Abraham to do the unthinkable — sacrifice his son,  Isaac — a picture of how God would sacrifice His own son,  Yeshua (Jesus).

God Appearing to Abraham at Shechem, by Pouwels Potter (1625–1654)

God Appearing to Abraham at Shechem, by Pouwels Potter (1625–1654)

Abraham says, Here I Am

God calls out, “Abraham!”  Without knowing what the Lord would ask of him,  he answers,  Hineini.”  (Genesis 22:1)

When Abraham finds out that God wants him to prepare his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice, he obeys.  As he places the wood on his son and they proceed to the place of the offering on Mount Moriah, Isaac calls out, “Father?”

Wanting to be present for his son’s needs as well as for God’s, Abraham again answers, “Hineini.”  (Genesis 22:7)

Testing of Abraham's Faith, Gustav Dore

The Testing of Abraham’s Faith (1866), by Gustav Dore

Then, one last time, as Abraham lifts the knife and readies himself to slaughter his son, the majestic Malach YHVH (Angel of God), calls out to him from Heaven:  “Abraham, Abraham.”

He answers, “Hineini,”  as God mercifully shows him the ram that will take Isaac’s place  (Genesis 22:11).

Abraham illustrates God’s sincere desire as our Father in Heaven to restore our broken relationship with Him through the great cost of His only Son Yeshua.


Abraham also illustrates how God makes Himself available to us while longing to hear us say, Hineini — in fact, He says it and does it all the time.

“Then the angel of God (Malach Elohim), who had been going in front of the Israelite camp, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them.”  (Exodus 14:19)

Scene from Prince of Egypt, depicting God’s presence in a pillar of fire lighting up the sky for the Israelites while also holding back the Egyptians.(YouTube capture)

Scene from Prince of Egypt, depicting God’s presence in a pillar of fire lighting up the sky for the Israelites while also holding back the Egyptians. (YouTube capture)

Our Father God says, Here I Am

We need to understand that God not only wants us to be available to Him,  He truly longs to be available to us.  He is a Personal God for each and every one of us.

God was with the Israelites as He brought them out of Egypt, guiding, protecting, and providing for them.

Several hundred years later, as Israel was about to be invaded by Babylon and taken into captivity for seventy years, God made His heart known:  He wanted  “to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek Him.”

Though they did not call on His name, He still said to them, “‘Hineini, Hineini — Here I am, here I am.”  (Isaiah 65:1)

The Prophet Isaiah Predicts the Return to Jerusalem, by Maarten van Heemskerck

The Prophet Isaiah Predicts the Return of the Jews from Exile by Maarten van Heemskerck

God is watching and waiting every day for our return, ready to embrace us and to celebrate our homecoming, our new life in Him.

Just like the prodigal son who returned to his father after fleeing from his presence, we too can present ourselves to our Father and hear Him say,

“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;  he was lost and is found.”  (Luke 15:24)

Yeshua says, Here I Am

The Return of the Prodigal Son-Pompeo Batoni

The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Pompeo Batoni

Yeshua, God in the flesh  (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1)  makes Himself available to us, always waiting for us to say, “Hineini.”

He calls to us during times when we have hidden ourselves from His presence.

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest and repent.  Here I am (Hineini!)

“I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person,  and they with me.”                                                                                                    (Revelation 3:19–20)

Yeshua promises to abide with us, if we allow Him in.

Only with His presence can we truly fulfill the call to be of service to God.  For Yeshua says,

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself;  it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” (John 15:4)

Yeshua lived out Hineini, always at the service of His Father, doing His will, and with His help, so can we.

“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”  (Psalm 40:8)

As with everything that He asks of us, Yeshua has gone before us.  God knows what it is to live here in an earthly body and still be of service to the Father.

The Father called His son to pay the penalty for our sins once and for all.  He struggled in the garden, just as we do, to do what He was called to do: He even sweat what seemed like drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

But Yeshua always did what pleased His Father and fulfilled the divine Hineini that was prophesied in Psalm 40:7-8:

“Then I said, ‘Here, I have come (Hineini); in the scroll of the book it is written of Me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’”  (Psalm 40:7–8)

Yeshua prays amidst the people.

Yeshua prays amidst the people.

What Will You Do?

As Believers, we cannot truly serve our Father, until we fully understand that Yeshua gave up everything, even His life to serve His Father.

And the Father gave up His Son, to restore our intimacy with Him.  In doing so, they have demonstrated the most profound Hineini of all time.

What they ask of us in return is not merely to be available for a divine taking of attendance but to respond to His mercy on us with holy action.  As the Apostle Paul tells us,

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)

We worship God with our offerings (Phillipians 4:18), the fruit of our lips that acknowledges to others His name (Hebrews 13:15), and doing good deeds in His name (Hebrews 13:16).

In that way, we fully live out Hineini in the eyes of our family and community in a way that truly pleases and glorifies Him.  And He will be fully available to us as well.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen … to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.”  (Isaiah 58:6-9)


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